Belite Introduces Fuel-Water Probe

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A small probe that can fit into an aircraft fuel line, detect water in the system, and alert a pilot was introduced at Sun 'n Fun last week by Jim Wiebe, CEO of Belite Aircraft. The system is still undergoing testing, he said, and he intends to have test and reliability data available at EAA AirVenture later this summer. "It will be for sale at Oshkosh, at a price to be announced," he said. The price will be affordable for the homebuilt and ultralight market, he said, and he expects the probe will also be available for light sport and certified aircraft. Wiebe said he came across the water-detection technology by accident while working on another problem.

The system could be designed into future airplanes by manufacturers, he said. "You could screw this into a fitting near the sump in a fuel tank, or redesign the fuel tank to have this sensor at the bottom of the tank, if you were an OEM," Wiebe said. "Ideally, we'd like to see one of our OEM partners design a system whereby the detection of water in the line triggers an auto-switching system that selects another fuel tank and warns the pilot at the same time, thereby preventing the water from ever getting to the engine and causing an engine-out situation." The probe does not detect dissolved water in fuel, but is sensitive to drops of liquid water, Wiebe said. He is working to patent the technology, he added.